Thus far, have you begun to consider taking time to incorporate N – Nature, E – Exercise, W – Worship into your life this 2020? What about the Y – Yearnings that tug at your heart and spirit? Today, we continue with the YEAR!
E – Endeavor. This refers to productive work we were made to do. In Genesis 2:15, God gave Adam work to do for his own benefit, even though God had provided everything good in the garden. Humanity was given dominion to rule and be a good steward of the earth that God created. There is dignity to all types of honest work, and they are one of the means God uses to develop our skills, abilities and our character. House work, field work, work based on one’s education or expertise, work based on one’s hobby or interests, work that cannot be monetized (such as a mother’s multiple work at home raising a family), work that provides for your family, are all God-given ways that make us get up in the morning and use up our time productively. It feels good to have something to do and to accomplish something! But one has to watch out for making work all consuming that there is little time for the other important things in life. Taking time for rest and Nature, Exercise, Worship, Yearning (creative work) makes for balance and renews our energy for productive and effective work. [See theologyofwork.org for more resources].
A – Advocacy. It could mean speaking or standing up for others and taking their concern as one’s own, empowering others to find their own voice, supporting a cause you believe in, or raising awareness for a societal issue involving the underprivileged. Proverbs 31:8-9 says, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
Advocacy can be done individually, at the moment when it is needed, as when one sees another being bullied, or a person being taken advantaged of. It can be done collectively, such as joining efforts to help earthquake or calamity victims, or raising awareness regarding child trafficking and doing something about it, or in making a stand with others on issues of national concern that threaten the fabric of our society, such as the SOGIE bill. Becoming an advocate means making your life count for another, or lending your voice and expertise for the greater good – of individuals, of groups, of society, of the country, of our world. There is that inherent desire in us for our lives to count for something bigger than us.
My life advocacy is for the family – strengthening marriage, parents, children – and have taken it as my life work and mission. In this advocacy, I get to work with and support organizations that work against child trafficking, provide for children’s education, and uplift families from poverty. This column is another outlet of that advocacy, where I can tackle the many concerns and issues that beset the family today and help in some way.
What about you? What issues arouse your concern or ire or reaction that makes you raring to do something about? It may start with your home, your workplace, or among your friends. Start small, and let it grow on you.
R – Relationships. In this day and age of social media and cellphones, Netflix and You Tube where people tend to be glued to one’s phone or TV, one needs to be intentional with one’s relationships. God created us to be relational beings that live in community. The Harvard Study of Adult Development followed 268 Harvard sophomores in 1938 over a period of 80 years, and included their offspring (1,300), and later expanded to include Boston’s inner city women and men in the ’70s to study their lives and health. The director of the study, Dr. Robert Waldinger, gave a summary of their findings: “The surprising finding is that our relationships and how happy we are in our relationships has a powerful influence on our health . . . Taking care of your health is important, but tending to your relationships is a form of self-care too. That, I think, is the revelation” (The Harvard Gazette 2017). It was close relationships, more than money, fame, social class, or IQ, that kept people happy throughout their lives. So this year, let us connect deeply and interact with family, friends, people that enrich our lives.
That completes our NEW YEAR: Nature, Exercise, Worship, Yearnings, Endeavor, Advocacy, Relationships. Which of them do you need to build into your life or give attention to this year?